FAMILY, friends and colleagues gathered this morning to say farewell to much-loved former Worcester News sports editor Paul Ricketts.

More than 100 people crowded into the chapel at Worcestershire crematorium for a service to celebrate Mr Ricketts’s life.

The service included music, poems and a hymn chosen by Mr Ricketts’s family, a eulogy written by family members, and a tribute by James Reece, the current sports editor of the Worcester News, who worked closely with Mr Ricketts for many years.

All emphasised the regard in which Mr Ricketts – affectionately known as Ricko – was held, and his warmth, kindness and generosity.

His devotion to his wife Ann, his children and his grandchildren was also highlighted.

“He was a truly beautiful soul and a great father,” his family said in their eulogy.

Mr Ricketts was born and brought up in Worcester. After attending the Royal Grammar School, where he played rugby and cricket, he began his journalism career in 1967 at the Evesham office of Berrows Newspapers Ltd, the predecessor of today’s Newsquest, which now owns the Worcester News and other county newspapers.

He subsequently transferred to the Worcester office, where he became news editor and then assistant editor, before taking the role of sports editor in 1990.

He remained in this post until his retirement in October 2015 on his 65th birthday.

Many of Mr Ricketts’s colleagues, past and present, attended the service, sharing their memories of him in conversations before and after the service.

The wake took place at the Graham Hick Suite at Worcestershire County Cricket Club’s New Road ground, where Mr Ricketts had spent many happy hours watching the county team play.

Mr Reece said: “Ricko was very much the family man. He adored his children and grandchildren - and I always admired the way he would ring his beloved wife Ann every lunchtime from his office desk in between munching on his sandwiches. It was typical of Paul’s caring and gentlemanly nature. When he lost Ann less than a year into leaving the Worcester News, it was a cruel blow for a man who thoroughly deserved to enjoy his retirement and hit Ricko incredibly hard, but he gained strength from his family around him.”